The Alpha’s Mate

The Alpha’s Mate   Take a look at the new cover!

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Alpha's-Mate-Mcover(5)Can a nerdy city girl find peace and contentment in a small Appalachian town called Rabbit Creek? Elizabeth Reynolds certainly hopes so. When she meets a man who instantly understands how out of step she is with her mother’s country club set and who offers her a quiet place in the mountains where she can write her dreamed of romance novel, Elizabeth jumps at the chance.

Tranqulity and contentment, however, are a state of mind and Elizabeth soon finds that her state of mind doesn’t even come close. The bucolic cottage she’s rented turns out to be a run-down cabin without phone service. And that gorgeous Chief of Police, Marshall Goodman, the one she met while she was covered in mud and wearing granny underwear?  The one who sends her heart spinning the first time they meet? It looks like he’s gay. He’s also her landlord and had no idea his family cabin had been let. Then there’s Charles, Marshall’s metrosexual brother, who can make her body feel things she never thought possible. He’d be her mother’s choice as an ideal husband, but Mother’s choices are exactly what she’s running from. These two men so upset her equilibrium, she’s constantly forced to resort to her mental stack of Lists Elizabeth Lives By.

After wrecking her car on a deserted country road and fighting both fire and wolves on her very first night, peaceful isn’t a word Elizabeth would use to describe Rabbit Creek. Oh, the people there are wonderful. Friendly and down to earth, they welcome her with open arms. It’s like moving into Mayberry… if Andy and Aunt Bea were wolves.

Only an outsider would call them werewolves. They’re wolvers, a community of man/beasts that have lived in these hills since their ancestors emigrated from Scotland three hundred years ago. They’re just like you and me, with a few minor exceptions like; their men changing to wolves under the full moon, Pack Laws that must be followed and their Alpha needing a special woman to be his Mate.

As if this all isn’t more than a sane, reasonable woman could handle, you guessed it; Elizabeth is a woman born to be an Alpha’s Mate. Which might work out well if Marshall actually wanted a mate or if his brother Charles hadn’t gone into business with Calvin Everest, an old Rabbit Creek enemy whose touch fills Elizabeth with revulsion. Charles and Calvin want the pack’s mountaintop for a high priced residential development and Everest wants Elizabeth for his own Mate and for revenge.

Challenges are issued, a battle is looming and the Chase is on. Literally. Everest invokes an antiquated Pack Law that requires a contested Alpha’s Mate be chased down under the full moon and forcefully ‘taken’. Elizabeth, being that sane and reasonable woman, wants no part of it, but if she refuses to participate, the people she’s grown to care about will lose everything and she’ll lose the one man she was born to love. There just isn’t a List that covers this!

The-Alpha's-Mate_2013-Paperback-coverExcerpt from The Alpha’s Mate

She awoke in a panic, bolting upright and fighting the sheets tangled about her legs. She wasn’t sure where she was or what awful sound had awakened her. It came again from outside her window. Not one sound, but many. The barn. The horses! She grabbed the robe and ran for the hall.

“Marshall! Chief!” she yelled as she tied the robe in place.

She banged on the door he’d said was his and opened it when he didn’t answer. The bed was undisturbed. He wasn’t home.

Halfway down the stairs, her toe caught the hem of the robe and she started to fall. She landed against the handrail, pirouetting like a drunken ballerina, and stumbled down two more steps before half leaping, half falling over the last three. She landed on one knee, pushed off of her stable foot and burst through the wooden screen door. It crashed against the outside wall and she felt the closer spring whip over her head when the screws holding it ripped free of the frame. Sometimes being short was a plus.

Faint yellow light was flickering from the small square of window at the near corner of the barn. Fire! She could hear the horses screaming and stomping inside. Elizabeth ran, the robe flying out behind her like a superhero cape.

Three dark shapes milled around the closed barn doors snarling and snapping at each other and the door. There were no trees here to block the sky, no skidding car to distract her attention. In the pale light of the half moon, they were outlined clearly and the soft light reflected off their fur. These were the same as the giant beast she’d seen on the road. Massive dogs. No. Wolves. She was sure of it when they turned as one to stare at her with blazing yellow eyes.

She choked, screamed and turned back to the house, moving faster than she ever thought possible, but not fast enough. A fourth beast came around the corner from far side of the house just as she reached the stairs. It snarled and leapt. Its teeth ripped viciously at the back of her legs and out of nowhere came the thought. That’s how they bring down prey. They hamstring them. It’s what he’ll do to me.

It was the robe that saved her. The wolf grabbed a mouthful of cloth where her legs should have been. It lunged again and she let the robe fall from her shoulders to tangle around the animal as she ran through the open doorway, grabbed the heavy inner wooden door and slammed it behind her.

She ran to the kitchen, grabbed the phone off the wall, dialed 911 and got… nothing.

“Someone help me,” she cried and then she saw the numbers printed neatly on an index card over the phone. Fire. Police. She dialed. Marshall would come.

“Marshall, oh god, Marshall, the horses are trapped,” she screamed into the phone, “There’s fire and wolves. Oh god, Marshall, there’s wolves.” She was sobbing, couldn’t make the words come out as she wanted them.

“Honey? Who are you? Where are you?” It was a woman’s voice.

“Where’s Marshall? He needs to come home!” Elizabeth was pacing back and forth. The adrenaline pulsing through her veins made her feel like she was going to explode.

“Honey, slow down. Where are you?” asked the voice again.

“I’m at Marshall Goodman’s house and there are wolves outside.”

“What are the wolves doing?” the woman asked reasonably.

“Other than trying to kill me? They look like they’re guarding the barn door. The barn is burning. The horses are screaming! Help me, please!”

The woman must have finally heard the panic and fear in her voice. “I’ll get someone out there as soon as I can. You sit tight.”

“Thanks.” She slammed the phone into its cradle. “For nothing.”

The horses. The poor horses. He said they were his babies and she was letting them die. She started searching the kitchen for something she could use as a weapon. Pots and pans were tossed to the side. A cast iron fry pan she thought might work was too heavy for her to swing. In a mudroom off the kitchen, she found what she needed. Not the baseball bat she was hoping for, but a shotgun. It rested on the shelf over a row of old coats hanging from pegs. She had to drag a chair in from the kitchen to reach the box of shells tucked into the corner. This was no time to worry about what her fellow members of Silverton Citizens Against Guns would think.

She’d never fired a gun before, but she’d read enough books about firearms and munitions to know which end was which. This was a single barrel pump action and she’d watched one being loaded at a hunting safety seminar at the library; something she’d adamantly protested at the time. She was so glad her protests had been ignored. She shakily loaded three shells into the magazine, pumped one into the chamber and loaded a fourth.

Without the robe, she had only a t-shirt of Marshall’s for clothes and she grabbed a coat from the rack not to cover her nakedness so much as for protection and a place to carry more shells and then threw it aside when she realized the too long sleeves would get in her way. The sleeveless vest on the last peg would do the job. The quilted plaid fell mid-thigh and the armholes left her plenty of room to maneuver.

Armed and uniformed, she headed back to the front door. A glance at the mantle clock told her only seven minutes had passed since she picked up the phone. She hoped she wasn’t seven minutes too late.

Cautiously checking to the right and left, Elizabeth stepped out onto the porch. The purple robe lay muddied and torn at the foot of the stairs and she stepped over it carefully keeping her eyes on the barn. The window was now more orange than yellow and behind the horse’s screams she could hear the fire crackle.

All four wolves were pacing back and forth in front of the barn doors, snarling at each other as they passed and yipping pitifully at the doors. Elizabeth raised the gun to her shoulder with her finger on the trigger and moved closer. She couldn’t remember how far these things shot and she had to make this look real. She didn’t want to hurt them. They were a part of nature that should be preserved. She only wanted to scare them away.

The wolves were concentrating on the door and paid no attention to her. When she thought she was close enough, she took her stance, left foot slightly forward, butt snug against her shoulder seam. She aimed above the center of the pack and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.

“Shit, shit, shit.” What did she do wrong? In the safety class… The safety! Her fingers scrambled over the trigger area until she found the button and pushed. She felt more than saw it poke out the other side.

The wolves must have heard her swear because now their heads swiveled from the door to her and back again as if they weren’t sure where their attention should lie. She thought she saw the barn door begin to open, but she clearly saw two of the wolves turn and take several steps in her direction.

With their wild eyes glaring and sharp pointy teeth jutting out from jaws large enough to make a snack out of her arm, she decided they were a part of nature she could do without. She swung the gun back to her shoulder, all thought of preserving life forgotten, and fired.

She had no time to appreciate the cries of the injured wolves. She was flying backward, the ground scraping the skin from her bare rear end. Her shoulder felt broken. She wanted to do what she always did when she was hurt; run around in circles yelling, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” until the pain went away, but the animals didn’t give her time. Two other wolves were coming at her and behind them a dark upright figure seemed to waver and fold in on itself in a strange play of firelight and shadow.

She pumped the gun, ejecting the spent shell and loading another into the chamber. This time, she didn’t aim. She fired blindly. Pumped and fired again. Pumped and fired again.

A series of sharp howls behind her made her turn. Three more wolves charged directly at her from the curving drive in front of the house.

There wasn’t time to reload. There wasn’t time to scream. They were on her before she could draw breath. She raised her arms to cover her head and closed her eyes against the snarling faces of death.